The McClain Center for Diversity and The Tiger PRIDE Taskforce annually hosts a Lavender Graduation for all students that identify within the LGBTQ+ Community. We have refreshments for our attendees and present the students with their rainbow chords, which may be worn at commencement (if they so choose).
We also present the winners of the Tiger Pride Awards for the individuals that qualify. Any member of the Wittenberg community may nominate someone for an award and the Tiger Task Force will review and present the award at the Lavender Grad Reception. Award nominations will open up each year a few weeks prior to the Graduation Celebration event.
What is the Inspiration behind Lavender Graduation:
The inspiration really came from a brainstorm with the LGBTQAI+ Task Force in fall 2019. In that conversation, it was brought up that there was no formal sense of recognition for students who made it to graduation despite the enduring challenges of being queer. As part of the ceremony, students will also be able to receive a rainbow cord to wear at commencement (if they choose) and keep as a token of their success and hopefully remind them of their journey at Witt and the chosen family they’ve found along the way.
Is this event specifically for students, or are family members also permitted to attend virtually? As an extension, will family members be permitted in succeeding years when the ceremony is able to be held in-person?
When planning any program where the primary demographic is LGBTQAI+ people, the first thing to uphold is the integrity and invested effort to not “out” anyone. An event like the Lavender Graduation, to some, can be very risky depending on their relationships with family, friends, etc. which is why the event registration and nomination was sent to the entire Wittenberg community, submissions are sent to an internal database, it does not require a Wittenberg email to register, and those who are graduating can make specific requests to not be mentioned or have their name written at the ceremony and/or anywhere thereafter. Additionally, it is common for folks within the LGBTQAI+ community to sometimes have temperamental relationships with family specifically, so therefore the Lavender Graduation is a student-first ceremony meaning it was created with the sole focus on the student experience. If a student would like to invite their family to attend the event, that would be an honor, but we leave that decision to the student.